Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
AllenLowe

Another Mystery Solved:

16 posts in this topic

it's somewhat well known that Rudy Van Gelder won't tell anyone what kind of microphones he uses - and that in his studio he has taken out the guts of his mics and covered them with other microphone covers, to protect his secrets - and I can confirm this from my one visit to his place about 20 years ago,

so - I was recording some stuff in my living room a few days ago - and I have two mics I was using - one a repro of a Neumann 87 and the other of a Neumann 47 - and my living room has perfect acoustics. And it was a nice 24 bit recording. Just saxophone, checking out some new mouthpieces.

Later I transferred the recording to my computer and added some very good plate reverb (as reconstructed incredibly well by the Waves Native Power Pack plug ins) -

so then, I'm listening back and I'm thinking - what does that sound like? On the 47 repro, which has a dark sound and a mid-range bump - why does that sound so familiar? Well, it was uncannily like RVG's later Blue note sax sound. Scarily so (actually I don't like RVG's 1960s work, though I'm in a small minority) - and I will tell you that there is no doubt in my mind that his sax mic of choice was a Neumann 47. Accented by the dark sound of his room and a little too much plate reverb.

you heard it here. But don't tell anyone or we'll have to silence you, forever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I frighten pretty easily. This did the trick. My mouthpiece is sealed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From an online post to the Mac OS X audio Forum (Feb. 4, 2007):

...for those 50s and 60s records for Blue Note you are hearing a comfortable LIVE sound, which means isolation was achieved largely with microphone placement and player spacing (though later on in the 60s he did start using isolation booths for singers/piano/drums), not tons of gobos, headphones, overdubs, etc. Supposedly he always close mic'd the bass and the piano soundhole, often close mic'd the horn(s) as well, and used very few drum microphones (likely 2 - 3) as you would be getting a fair amount of drum bleed in your bass and piano mics. For these jazz recordings, he seemed to prefer windscreen covered Schoeps tube mics, the Neumann U47, and RCA 77. His studio has great acoustics - often compared to a cathedral in miniature - and he may have used a room mic on occasion to exploit this.

It is funny that his recordings are often described as "natural," when he used quite a lot of eq, compression, and plate reverb, probably less to "add" anything as much as combat the limitations of his gear. He took great care with mic placement and he usually did his own mastering (and now re-mastering) as well. He also has very attentive (if not always golden) ears, and is skilled at putting together a good mix.

There are so many unanswered questions about his techniques and it would be easy to continue to speculate, but to quote him, "...the only thing anybody needs to know about my studio is the sounds that came out of it."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

aha! the 47 - I actually like his early stuff, the things he did in his parents house, I think it was - the later stuff has too much of his personal signature for my taste.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

aha! the 47 - I actually like his early stuff, the things he did in his parents house, I think it was - the later stuff has too much of his personal signature for my taste.

I'm not alone! I've liked his stuff up to the move out of his parent's house for a long time now. The Lexington Avenue Blue Notes and the 10" Prestige stuff sound very well balanced with a nice piano tone. After that, he begins to make some ear bleeding choices. All the way through, sound quality varied quite a bit. Some recordings sound great while others sound muffled at best. I have a Hank Mobley record, recorded in his parent's living room, that sounds abysmal even on the Lex pressing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can see the Schoeps on some Impulse covers. He liked that mic on sax.

As Chuck will attest, the biggest mystery is what he used on bass. Chuck has seen the mic, described it to my good friend and studio owner Glenn Brown (who knows his mics backwards and forwards) and still the mystery remains.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

but, Jim, according to Van Gelder the guts are not the same brand as the covers, unless he started doing that later - I do remember when I was in the studio how weird the mics looked, that the covers did not quite seem to fit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Where do you get this magic microphone story? I never heard it from Rudy. When were you in the studio?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it was in some interview with Van Gelder years ago in an audio magazine, and I know I've seen reference to it since - I was in the studio maybe early '90s, not sure, it was a session with Carmen Leggio, Bill Crow, Dave Jones (a drummer) and others, for a Japanese label (maybe Venus). And from what I saw there it seemed true, the covers were hanging off, not quite connected securely. Very strange.

it is possible that he started doing this only after the audiophiles started going after him for info and interviews, which didn't really seem to happen until relatively late in the 20th century.

Edited by AllenLowe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not good enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw them - those mic covers were not the originals, and clearly just stuck on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Still not good enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was there - and awake. Ok, I'll call up Rudy this week (though, in various internet searches, the story of him hiding his mic choices is repeated often. And I don't think it's an Urban legend).

but I'll make the call.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have heard the "tampered mike" story many times but never heard it from Rudy (I talked to him a bunch when I had chances). Just looking for truth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was there - and awake. Ok, I'll call up Rudy this week (though, in various internet searches, the story of him hiding his mic choices is repeated often. And I don't think it's an Urban legend).

but I'll make the call.

If you need the number, call me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"when the legend and the truth are different....."

I have it somewhere - I'll let you know tomorrow if I need it -

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.